Our daughter was born five days after my thirtieth birthday. I immediately knew, and have maintained ever since, that her birth was the best birthday gift of my life.
As I looked toward this year’s birthday (number sixty-six, coming up in a few days), I realized I wanted only one gift to mark the occasion, a gift that would immediately rank Number Two on my all-time list.
I wanted to retire.
Life in the workaday world has given me interesting times, allowed me to make many close friendships, and paid the bills. Still, I felt forty-plus years with my nose to the proverbial grindstone would do, thanks very much.1 I wanted to step away from it all while I still have some semblance of my marbles and am reasonably healthy.
And, so, I did.
There were a couple of times in recent years when I’d find myself unexpectedly released from the office to work from home, instead.
One such instance was because of a fire, four floors above where I then worked, that forced evacuation of the whole building. Another time, at a different job, was on what was supposed to be the first day at a new office location where, on arrival, I found the place still powerless after a violent weekend storm.
I’d grown to hate the daily commute, as well as the open-office experience in general.4 Thus, on each of those two occasions, I could feel myself relaxing as I neared home, going the opposite way from nearly all the other vehicles and the grim-faced workers I saw driving them.
I imagined how it would be if the job-of-the-time were actually a thing of the past, if I were retired, if I were free to go someplace at whatever leisurely pace I desired without worrying about adhering to somebody else’s schedule.
Now, I need no such imagination. Now, for the first time in forty-plus years, my schedule is fully mine to manage.5 And, if the choice remains mine, it will stay that way.
My workday is done. While I do and will miss many of those folks with whom I formerly shared it over the decades, I won’t miss it. To paraphrase the familiar quotation: “I never heard a dying man say, ‘I wish I’d spent more time at work.’” And, although I am quite alive and well, rest assured you won’t catch me saying, writing, or thinking anything of the kind, either.
To put it another way, I could echo the words of George S. Patton as portrayed in the 1970 film about his World War II exploits: “All right now, by God, that’s enough!” ↩︎
The retirement itself is effective in a couple of days, to honor the pay period. ↩︎
This was in the pre-COVID-19 days, of course. Working from home in the last year and a half freed me from both of those aspects, at least. ↩︎
This obviously doesn’t count the times during that stretch when I found myself unemployed. Under no circumstances does a bread-earner enjoy such unhappy periods or feel free while enduring them. Anybody of any political stripe who says otherwise is full of it. You may quote me. ↩︎